The special committee that investigated the bribery allegation against the chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) has dismissed the suggestion of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, that it did not have the power to cite him for contempt.
Speaking with the Daily Graphic yesterday, a member of the committee, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, said Parliament had the power to cite an MP for contempt of Parliament for breach of privilege.
He said the special committee sat with the powers of Parliament, which gave it the remit to cite Mr Ayariga for contempt for injuring the reputation of the First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the ACP, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu.
Asked whether the terms of reference of the committee included any recommendations for sanctions, Mr Banda said the third term of reference clothed the committee with the power to recommend sanctions.
The third term of reference for the committee was for the committee to look into the remit of complaints and assertions made by Mr Osei-Owusu about the matter.
Mr Banda, who is the MP for Offinso South, said the remit of complaints was the injury to the reputation of Mr Osei-Owusu, which the committee had established.
He said the committee had the option to recommend sanctions, including reprimand, suspension or dismissal, but the committee chose the least of the sanctions which was an unqualified apology.
The legislator said the committee felt that the apology would end the matter, but Mr Ayariga rather gave a qualified apology.
He said that was not the outcome the committee had expected.
Mr Ayariga again asked why the committee used criminal standards to determine the burden of truth in the matter.
He said if the criminal standards were used, then he should have also been given the opportunity to cross-examine the other members.
Mr Ayariga concluded by rendering an apology in the following words:” Mr Speaker, if you say I should apologise, I apologise.”
But Mr Banda said during the investigations, Mr Ayariga could have availed himself of the opportunity to cross-examine the parties in the matter.
He said the hearing was held in public and Mr Ayariga could have requested to cross-examine them.
No proof of bribery
The committee concluded that the then Minister of Energy designate, Mr Boakye Agyarko, had not given any money to Mr Osei-Owusu to be given to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed-Mubarak, for the purpose of bribing members of the ACP.
Besides, it said, there was no attempt to bribe members of the ACP.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Sagnarigu, Alhaji A. B. A. Fuseini, said the issue had nothing to do with partisanship but everything with the image of Parliament.
He said if the committee did not have the jurisdiction to make recommendations for contempt, as argued by Mr Ayariga, it should be referred to the Privileges Committee to arrive at such a conclusion.